The Little Flowers of St. Francis, tr. by W. Heywood, , at sacred-texts.com
THE more the Religious abideth beneath the yoke of holy obedience, for the love of God, the greater fruit will he give of himself to God; the more he shall be subject to his Superior for the honour of God, the more free will he be and clean from sin. The true obedient Religious is like unto a knight well armed and mounted the which overcometh and breaketh the ranks of his enemies, safely and without fear, because none of them can hurt him. But he who obeyeth with murmuring and on compulsion, is like unto an unarmed knight and ill-mounted, the which,
when he entereth into the battle, will be cast to earth by his enemies, and wounded by them and taken, and sometimes imprisoned and slain. That Religious who desireth to live according to his own will and pleasure, showeth that he would build himself an everlasting habitation in the abyss of hell. When the ox putteth his neck beneath the yoke, then is the ground well ploughed and yieldeth good fruit in its season, but when the ox wandereth where it will, the earth remaineth untilled and wild, and yieldeth not its fruit in due season. And even so, the Religious who submitted his neck to the yoke of obedience, bringeth forth much fruit to the Lord God in due season; but he who obeyeth not his Superior with a good heart, remaineth sterile and wild and without fruit of his profession. Wise men and magnanimous submit their necks readily, without fear and without doubting, to the yoke of holy obedience; but foolish and fearful men seek to draw their necks from under the yoke of holy obedience, and thereafter are not willing to obey any creature. I hold it greater perfection, in the servant of God, to simply obey his superior, for reverence and love of God, than to obey God Himself, if God should lay his commands upon him; for he who is obedient to a vicar of the Lord, would, of a surety, be more obedient to the Lord himself if He should command him. Also meseemeth that, if any man had promised obedience to another, and had grace to speak with angels; and if it befel that, while he was speaking with those angels, he to whom he had promised obedience called him; I say that he ought forthwith to stop speaking with the Angels, and ought to hasten to do obedience for the honour of God. He who hath set his neck beneath the yoke of holy obedience, and thereafter would withdraw
his neck from under that obedience, through desire of following a life of greater perfection; I say that, if he be not first altogether perfect in the state of obedience, it is a sign of the great pride which secretly lieth hid in his soul. Obedience is the path which leadeth to every virtue; and disobedience is the path of every evil and of every sin.